The Joi Element was birthed from the marriage of poetry and the right side of Joi Donaldson’s brain. Joi Donaldson has been writing since the age of seven. Diagnosed with Dysthymia at an early age, her painfully shy nature gave way to her truly creative side, allowing her to best express herself through written word. Fast-forward a few years, after a painful bout with Endometriosis, the birth of her daughter and a messy separation, Joi finally found herself and her voice. She started performing Spoken Word on a whim in 2010 and since then she has embraced the stage and the art form. The emotional reactions she receives, ranging from laughter to tears to revelation, feed her spirit. Desired in her community for not only her written work but also her ambiance, Joi is frequently requested for special events and appearances. Joi Donaldson has written three books to date: To She Found Daydreaming in Glasses, Full of Myself and Things I want to Say, respectively. She is the sole owner and founder of Right Side Reign LLC, a creative collective that houses her book and album sales, videography/editing services and creative consulting ventures. Some of her clients include Michael “Maestro” Turner of Motivation Central LLC, Brown Gyrl Inc. and Shauna Denee of Shauna Denee Ministries. A member and staple of The Project Band RVA, Joi can be seen and heard performing weekly in The Listening Room Unplugged. She also serves faithfully on the audio/visual team at Village of Faith Ministries. Joi Donaldson refuses to allow her illness or former depressive diagnosis to define her passion. She discovered her mission is to tell her story, to encourage those who have experienced similar trials and she strives to do so through her poetry, Spoken Word and the occasional song.
3375 So, tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from?
Joi I am originally from South Richmond, VA even though I call Newport News my second
3375 When and why did you begin writing?
Joi My creativity was cultivated initially out of necessity. I began writing at age 7 because
I was very shy and awkward. I wasn’t great with my words at all when speaking so I
resorted to writing to express myself fully.
3375 What inspired you to write your first book?
Joi I came across notebooks and binders filled with my old poems and stories. I started
reading them and during my maternity leave I decided to turn them into a book. The
book began to evolve as I went through some of my darkest seasons, most notably
separating from my then-husband and becoming an unemployed single mom. A ton of
rewrites followed until I had drawn the picture God wanted me to show.
3375 So I have to ask, do you ever experience writer's block? If so,
how do you get through it?
Joi I experienced my longest and deepest writer’s block during my senior year of high
school going into college. I couldn’t write because I was so numb. My grandmother
was diagnosed with cancer and I was grief stricken. I slowly came out of it during my
sophomore year of college. Now if I have writer’s block, I step away from whatever I’m
working on. I find that helps me gain a new perspective and frees up my thoughts.
3375 So let’s switch gears for a moment. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I am just now considering myself a Writer. Initially I just saw myself as someone who
writes because her spoken words tend to get in the way. I honestly have not gotten
used to the words Author and Poet neither because to me they seem one-tiered. Almost
one-trick-ponyesque. I prefer Writer because there’s no limit on that word.
3375 What book(s) have influenced your life most?
Joi Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café most influenced my current style of
writing. I recently finished reading a book called Me Before You by JoJo Moyes that
influenced my story-telling style.
3375 What book(s) are you reading now?
Joi I Love Him, He Loves Me Not by Adenike Lucas
3375 Is there someone you consider a mentor?
Joi Shauna Denee of Shauna Denee Ministries is definitely high up there on my mentor
list. I consider a mentor someone who is blazing their own path; who won’t allow smoke
to be blown up their butt just as much as they won’t blow smoke up yours. They are
genuine. They lead by example and not just by word.
3375 When did you decide to become a film director?
Joi I have had dreams of being in the motion picture business since middle school. The
movie that most influenced me to pursue that route is The Truman Show. I have always
been in love with movies but I have been blessed to work in the nuts and bolts of that
industry. It’s not for that faint or those looking to make it the easy way.
3375 Have you directed a film yet? If so, what the name?
Joi Not yet but I’ve started developing some scripts and short film ideas for 2014.
You said you overcame obstacles as an adolescent.
3375 What were some of the obstacles?
Joi I’m just coming to terms with a lot of the things I went through as a kid. My parents were
very broken; they both had some internal issues that I took the brunt of. One chose to
run away; the other chose to drink. In the midst of that I was molested by a relative.
Overall, I think of it as the devil came for me early but God got to me first.
3375 If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
Joi Italy. Not to the tourist spots. The secluded areas you can only read about.
3375 Tell us about your new book!
Joi My newest book was birthed out of my frustration of wanting to get through to my
child. She’s extremely smart but she’s also 4 ½. I started thinking about all the things
I wanted to say to her without sounding like a jerk. It was a ton of one-liners that I
expanded on and it became my third offering. This is also the first book in which I’ve
had contributions. Friends and family added to this book which makes it extra special.
3375 What's the message you want people to get from your book?
Joi Parenting is not one-size-fits-all. And it’s okay to feel like you’re going crazy. Majority of
us, especially single parents, feel the same.
3375 What is your advice to the young women that wants to be successful as a writer?
Joi Don’t write for others or what you may think the public wants to read; write for yourself.
Tell your own unique story.
3375 How can we purchase your books and contact you?
Joi All of my books are on Amazon in both print and e-book format.
Facebook: The Joi Element
Website is coming soon.
3375 What's next for Joi?
Joi Filming and collaborations. I really want to complete my short films and work with other
3375 Do you have any shout outs?
Joi My daughter Sanaa
Brown Gyrls Inc and Motivation Central
My VOFM and Thrive Family
Tai Wo, Unix, B. Ross
Dei of D’Visionz Photography, one of the best photogs ever!
My light bright twin from another mother Dominique Henry
And mostly my friends and family who continue to support me.